- The Washington Times - Monday, March 4, 2002

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle says that before Congress appropriates more money for a wider war against terrorism, it needs more consultation with the Bush administration about the scope and direction of the expanding endeavor and how money will be spent.
But some key Republicans in the Senate worry that too much consultation with Congress could compromise military missions.
Mr. Daschle, who was interviewed on "Fox News Sunday" and NBC's "Meet the Press," created a firestorm last week by challenging the administration's handling of the war.
"We're going to be committing $4.7 trillion to defense over the next 10 years if the president has his way, $600 billion more than was originally anticipated. Before we commit these resources, we better question, I think, the issues involved around that funding," the South Dakota Democrat told Fox News. "I think it is important for us to be fully aware of the implications of all of this."
Unlike some other Democrats, he declined to say whether he fears that the U.S. military may be spread too thin as it fights in Afghanistan and also deploys troops in Yemen, the Philippines and the former Soviet republic of Georgia to assist in anti-terrorism campaigns in those countries.
"What I am afraid of is not having all the information, not being the co-equal branch of government, as we make those decisions that are so important. I think that it's critical that we be full partners, that we have the full plethora of answers to the questions we're asking," Mr. Daschle said.
However, Sen. Larry E. Craig of Idaho, chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, said on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" that consultation already is adequate and that further briefings would risk leaks.
"I think we are well-informed. We have been properly briefed, and we will be in most cases after the fact," he said.
"When we have some of our elite forces moving into Georgia, the Philippines and Yemen, we don't telegraph that to the world ahead of time. And I'm afraid that if you tell Congress ahead of time, that might happen," said Mr. Craig, also a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
In interviews on CNN and CBS, Sen. John McCain, a member of the Armed Services Committee, suggested the administration should consult more with Congress as it expands the anti-terrorism war and sends troops on new missions, but added the same caveat on leaking.
"But I have to say, on behalf of the administration, if you brief a group of members of Congress, it's either directly or indirectly leaked to the media," the Arizona Republican said on "Late Edition." "We've seen that time after time. And early in this conflict, some rather sensitive information was leaked, at least in the view of the administration.
"So there's a careful balance here. I think, perhaps, maybe we should have some ground rules as to who should be consulted and under what circumstances … there's a line you don't want to cross while young Americans are in harm's way, which they are as we speak."
As for Mr. Daschle's claim that the administration and Congress should be "full partners" in the war, Mr. McCain said on CNN: "There is a role for Congress to play. But I'm not sure it's equal in this case, because the president is commander in chief."
On Fox, Mr. Daschle was asked if Congress should have access to operational details about war activity.
"I think some in Congress should, especially those on the intelligence committee," he said.
But another Democrat said consultation had eroded since the immediate aftermath of the U.S. response to the September 11 attacks.
"I think we need to get back to the intensive dialogue we once had [about the progress of the war] to find out what the future is," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, on "Late Edition." "I think we need to know where we're going next."
On the broader matter of the conduct of the war on terrorism, Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican and vice chairman of the intelligence committee, called the expanded missions "calculated risks" and "necessary" ones in an interview yesterday on ABC's "This Week."
Mr. Shelby said he sees value in the missions in Yemen, Georgia and the Philippines, where U.S. soldiers are offering training and support to armies in countries trying to eliminate terrorists within their borders.
He contrasted those missions with the Clinton administration's peacekeeping and "nation-building" efforts, in which U.S. soldiers "handed out sandwiches" and "picked up trash."
Appearing on NBC, Senate Republican leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, reiterated concerns he raised last week after Mr. Daschle said the war against terrorism seems to lack direction, is too "open-ended" and will be a failure if Osama bin Laden and other top al Qaeda or Taliban kingpins aren't captured or killed.
Mr. Lott yesterday refused to call Mr. Daschle's comments inappropriate but said, "Any crack or perceived crack in the support and unity of the American people in our leaders in Washington is not helpful. And I think it is important we not be critical of the commander in chief at a time when we are at war against terror."
Asked on NBC if he has any concerns his comments are sending the wrong message overseas, Mr. Daschle said, "None whatsoever."
"Obviously, there is a concern about what kind of message we send abroad, and we shouldn't minimize that," Mr. Daschle said. "But, out of concern for making sure people understand … the unanimity with which we adhere to the goals of this effort, we simply cannot back down in the constitutional role.
"We need to support our troops. They've done an outstanding job. But we also have to ask the right questions," he said. "I don't think we ought to rubber-stamp any president as we get into these difficult decisions."
Mr. Daschle said the "right questions" include: "How do you define success? How do you ensure that what it is we're doing is ultimately going to lead to success? What will Phase II require and how many troops are going to be there? Will our allies be involved? How do we define success in the out years? How much is it going to cost? How long will they stay?"
On CBS' "Face the Nation," Mr. McCain said he believes more U.S. ground troops will be needed in Afghanistan to help fight the war that still rages in some regions there. He declined to give a number but said he does not believe it would be "massive."

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